This trip was one of the really good ones! I have wanted to get into paragliding for years after seeing friends get into it and also working with a couple of major PG companies. After someone suggested a summer break somewhere, I threw learning to fly in as an idea. People jumped on it and we got it organised. Rob at FlySpain put a course together for us. We had around 10 days, in the blistering heat of Andalucia in August, to get through a jam packed course.
Arrival day didnt count really – it was pretty much dedicated to meeting our instructor Fred, TI Theo, some basic paperwork, and sorting out kit ready for the next morning.
Day 1 – Basic ground handling
We headed down to lake Bornos. It was hot by 9am and we were not there to go swimming. A gear demo, harness set up and a run through the basics. Daily checks, flight checks, and forward launches to start with. The 15 years of kiting really paid off at this point – knowing what a wing looks like, and having plenty of experience sorting bridles really pay off. The feel for controlling the wing, and being accustomed to the power made it all quite easy. Next up some reverse launches – this is even more like kiting, and makes a lot of sense. As it is the technique you actually use most of the time too it was good to get these nailed. After a long morning running in the heat it was back for a lil siesta.
That evening we went to Cuatro Mojones – a site with gentle hills in various different directions allowing you to use it in various wind directions. We worked on forward launches and hops and flaring to land. After a while the wind picked up so we had to give up.
Day 2 – First basic flights
An early morning start and back to Cuatro Mojones. We got our first basic flights from lower down the hill and worked our way up. It was hot, but we had loads of water with us, plenty of enthusiasm and we wanted to progress. First basic flights went well! The running back up the hill was brutal!
By early afternoon we were tired! A stop at the resevoir at Zahara for a swim was much needed! That evening we returned to Cuatro and did a few more short flights.
Day 3 – Theory and the first real flight
The hard work in the previous two days was showing! Luckily for us it was a morning sat in the air con and doing some theory, and going over the information learnt in the last few days. Then the EP multiple choice test – which we all breezed through! Now we were officially onto the next stage of the course – CP!
The first step here was to cover some new theory. Next up we switched our wings from the school ground handling wings, to much newer ones. Then things became much more real as we covered reserves and added those to our harnesses. That evening we would make our first real soaring flight in the evening at Lijar Levante. It was a pretty epic fist flight in amazing sunset conditions. We celebrated with some G+Ts.
Day 4 – Morning flight from Lijar, Sunset flight at El Bosque
The G+Ts got out of hand the night before. We headed back up to Lijar Levante, but the conditions were not as good as the night before – it would be more of a top to bottom than the night before. It was still a solid flight.
After that we moved down to El Bosque. It was pretty windy so we had a picnic and watched the hang gliders take off and fly. It looked terrifying! As the wind died later that afternoon we moved to the take off and made our preparations. It turned out to be another magical flight!
Day 5 – Ronda la Vieja
This spot was super fun! We got to see Fred and Theo fly a bit more and show us how it was done. Then we had the whole ridge to ourselves to play around for a bit. This was a great spot with the landing not too far from take off. It was super easy to take photos at this location so I made the most of it!
Day 6 – Theory exams then El Bosque
The weather meant no flying in the morning, so we did some theory and got through another exam. After lunch we headed down to El Bosque – the wind was very light though and a little inconsistent. It turned out to be a top to bottom – not ideal, but a beautiful spot and plenty to look at.
Day 7 – Canette La Real
A bit of a road trip to somewhere different! The wind was a little light to start with. We did a couple of top to bottom flights in the morning, struggling to find the lift to stay up. It does not take too long to get picked up and head back up here. After a break for lunch and a cool drink we headed back for an evening session. The wind had picked up and there was some more thermal activity. We soared the ridge for an hour before we were told to come down! An epic day!
Day 8 – Final exam + Lijar Poniente
The final exam – after this we were officially club pilots! With conditions not being ideal for any of the spots we had flown before, we headed up to Lijar again but this time to the Poniente take off. The conditions looked great! The trouble with this site is that the landing is more complicated, but once we had scoped that out it was all good. We had loads of flight time and sharing the air with lots of other pilots.
Day 9 – Parawaiting
A leisurely start to the day followed by a trip to El Bosque to see if the wind would play ball. Unfortunately it did not. We spent a few hours chilling and watching the conditions but it was not to be. A day without flying on the whole trip was not so bad. It was Friday night and Paella night!
A day off – spent wandering round town, hopping from bar to bar sipping coffees then moving onto beers and tapas. A snooze in the sun and before you know it – time to head to the airport.
If you are looking to get into paragliding – give the guys at Flyspain a shout. They sorted us out and we couldn’t have been happier! They know what they are doing and their location is ideal.